in the fight

I went to the Airman Leadership School graduation in the evening, a lot more fun that the Air Force Ball, but then about anything short of a root canal would have been, so I could have phrased it better.

The 373rd IG was there in force, and it seemed like just about every one of us was very, ah, enthusiastic about being there. Colonel Mitzell later characterized us as “obnoxious, but damned proud of who we are,” and he got applause for that.

Everything was formal and quiet during the social hour and through the dinner. Then it came time to hand out the diplomas. Each time a 373rd student was called to the stage, he was met by a thunder of spoons clattering on tables; F-16s taking off from the flight line next door would have been drowned out. After they received their diplomas and walked off the stage, Col Mitzell called out in a lusty baritone, “373rd IG!” and all the guests from the group would holler back, “IN THE FIGHT!” – the colonel’s pet phrase.

This rousing display of esprit de corps completely baffled the A1Cs and SrAs I was sitting with; they hardly knew what to think. They’d obviously never seen anything like it at an Air Force function, a crying shame, if you ask me. Looks like it’s about time this unit had a combat dining-in.

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